Hot Smoked Salmon
This salmon recipe takes a total of 3 days, so it’s important to plan ahead. A proper smoke box is the most controlled way to smoke salmon, but if you do not own a smoker, I have included a method for a charcoal grill. (See the Chef’s Note below.)
Serves 6 / Prep Time: / Total Time:
- Trim the salmon filets and remove any pin bones. Rinse under cold water, pat dry, and place in a wide shallow container large enough to hold all the salmon filets in one layer with 1 quart of liquid.
- In a small saucepan, bring the water, salt, brown sugar, bay leaves, and thyme to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the brine into the container of ice water and cool to room temperature.
- Pour the brine over the salmon filets. The salmon should be covered with the brine; add more cold water if necessary to cover. Cover the container and refrigerate for 48 hours. (During this time the salt and sugar will penetrate deep into the salmon and the flesh will begin to cure.)
- Remove the salmon from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered for 12 to 24 hours. (This will form the important pellicle, or skin, over the filets so the smoke can adhere to the fish.)
- Place in a hot smoker set to 180˚F until the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 150˚F, about 2 hours. Remove from the smoker and refrigerate the salmon for 4 hours to thoroughly cool before serving. The salmon may be refrigerated for up to 7 days or frozen for up to 30 days.
If you plan to use your charcoal grill as a smoker, thoroughly soak wood chips in water for at least 8 hours. When ready to smoke, light a large handful of charcoal in the far side of the grill chamber. Let them burn 75% of the way through, with the lid off of the grill. Once the coals have burned down, place the soaked wood chips on top of the coals and place the salmon filets on the opposite side of the grill. Place the lid on the grill and let the chamber build up with smoke. Monitor the temperature inside the chamber and make sure that it does not reach over 200˚F. Smoke until the salmon filets reach an internal temperature of 150˚F.